Bushman Caves and Paintings – Photos

“The San are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20 000 years. The term San is commonly used to refer to a diverse group of hunter-gatherers living in Southern Africa who share historical and linguistic connections. The San were also referred to as Bushmen, but this term has since been abandoned as it is considered derogatory. There are many different San groups – they have no collective name for themselves, and the terms ‘Bushman’, ‘San’, ‘Basarwa’ (in Botswana) are used. The term, ‘bushman’, came from the Dutch term, ‘bossiesman’, which meant ‘bandit’ or ‘outlaw’.” Source: Siyabona Africa

Been a Gypsy myself, I can really relate to these people, the original gypsies of Southern Africa. I have traveled far and wide to go and take a look, and photograph Bushman Paintings. I like to sit where they did, thousands of years ago, an imagine what it was like way back then.


Uitkyk, Mapumalanga


I have noticed that all the caves I have visited the have a few things in common. They are on the side of a hill or mountain and have a steep drop in front of them, some can only be approached from the rear. They are seldom very deep, most are more like an overhang.

The one that is in the photos had a very unusual twist. The paintings and the cave were almost a kilometer apart. Sitting on my rock I thought about this. I had been to the paintings first, then climbed the mountain to the cave. By the paintings I found some interesting things. One was what must be the world’s oldest artists palette. The artist must have crushed the ingredients for his paints here, as no water made this indentation in the rock.


The Artist’s Palette


The “Canvas.”



Onto the dwelling cave, all uphill and pretty thick bush. This was a rear entry type cave, so I had to climb UP, and then a bit down and across in order to get to it.





Going back down a bit

A long and hard hike, and in the Lowveld’s heat and humidity, but well worth the effort. The first things of interest I saw were the pottery shards, but MUCH more interesting was the stone bench! As these caves are on private property and not well known, there is no vandalism or removal of artifacts as there is, sadly, at some of the other sites I have visited. The grinding stone is still where it was used, who knows how many years ago.

I sat for some hours up on that mountain, imagining how it must have been. In my head I could see the leader, or one of the older Bushmen, directing the men below to where the animal they hunted were. From up here one can see for miles. Eventually I had to leave but took a few more photos on the way back. Found a more modern sign of humans, as you will see in the photos.



View of the Painting’s Rock from the Cave


If you are interested in Bushman Art this book is available.


Tim Forssman and Lee Gutteridge have compiled Bushman Rock Art: An Interpretive Guide in order to give us insight and understanding into one of the oldest forms of art.


Of Interest

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The Chronicles of the Mexican Horse Thief I – Angola


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